Letter: After a good life

Sir: The way Professor Nicholas Kurti handled his own death had an important message for all of us in modern society who find it difficult to deal with mortality (obituary, 27 October).

Being a hospice doctor gave me the privilege of seeing him frequently in his last days. On the day of his final deterioration, he requested me to see him. "This is the end, Erzsi" he said, "I am dying. Tell all our friends I had a wonderful life, and I am thankful for the good times we had together." To my request whether there was anything he wanted us to do or to know, his answer was: "Everything is done, everything is arranged. I am prepared. It was a good life, and it is completed now."

I told him how much he gave us, how privileged and rich we all felt enjoying his friendship. We discussed the plans of friends how to comfort Giana, his wife, after his death, which he approved and which obviously gave him pleasure. He talked about the memory of his grandfather dying, vanishing slowly: "Only his smile remained." We were holding both hands, Nicholas smiling, my tears trickling.

After a few minutes he gave me a hug: "Go now, I am tired. If I am still here tomorrow, come and see me again." Two days later he died. I wonder whether he was aware how precious his last gift was.

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